Transnational Literature, vol. 12, November 2020
Transnational Literature has been on quite a journey over the last two years, so we genuinely couldn’t be prouder to be bringing you Volume 12.
The journal has, as regular readers will know, evolved and adapted since its inception. Transnational Literature started with the ground-breaking work of Professor Syd Harrex who brought the study of new literatures in English to Flinders University, South Australia. Dr Gillian Dooley, prolific scholar and Research Fellow in English, developed the journal over the next decade with a hard-working, volunteer Editorial Team and the support of senior scholars on an Advisory Board drawn from institutions around the world. By 2018, the journal had reached an international audience of over 2000 readers.
It was by chance occurrence, in what we thought were the journal’s last days, that Gillian approached Professor Ian Gadd, (who was visiting the University of Adelaide at the time), to ask him whether the Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education (TRACE) at Bath Spa University would consider being its new hosts. As Alice managed the final issue at Flinders, talks began with Professor Bambo Soyinka, TRACE’s director. With that began the joys and challenges of a transnational editorial exchange which ultimately led us here. It took two years and many late-night Zoom sessions to negotiate the transition from Flinders to Bath Spa University. Initially, we struggled with time differences and wrestled with technology (there was one memorable occasion where Elen attempted to WhatsApp Alice, only to accidentally phone her, for more than an hour, on a mobile - that phone bill was particularly heart-stopping). But, we soon settled into a rhythm and were able to set up at TRACE, arrange affiliation with the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative and Critical Practice (JMCCCP) at the University of Adelaide, gather more followers, undertake reader surveys, add members to the Editorial Team and Advisory Board, rebuild the journal management system and create the website. We were supported during this time by the GALA network, TRACE and JMCCCP - for which we are truly thankful.
When we opened for Volume 12 submissions, we were overwhelmed by the amount of interest and enthusiasm that scholars and writers displayed (as those of you who had to wait many, many weeks for a response from us are all too aware - we continue to be grateful for the patience you extended to us). In all, we received some 150 items for our consideration, from authors across six continents. These submissions represented a staggering amount of scholarship and creativity within a vibrant, rapidly changing field.
Part of the transition was scoping future ideas for the journal and how it should respond to the ever-changing field of transnational literary studies. A meeting with members of the JMCCCP in March asked: “If the journal is to move into the future, how do we define ‘transnational literature’ in response to more contemporary scholarship in World Literature, Postcolonial Studies, and Transnationalism? How does the ‘trans’ in transnational manifest in cross-media platforms, in identities, in histories, in trade and information exchange, and in the migrancy of ideas and stories in what we broadly call ‘literature’?”
We have found many answers to these questions in our selection of both creative and scholarly work for this volume. Of the peer-reviewed articles, for example, we publish four essays which variously explore the transnational in terms of author identities, historical divisions, refugee narratives and the transgressive language of the body in literature. Paul Sharrad, in his essay on Tara June Winch’s literary career, approaches the “transnational turn” from the perspective of Indigenous writers across the globe, and an Aboriginal writer who has sought out international travel, homes, and literary influences whilst maintaining local heritage and attachments to Wiradjuri Country in New South Wales. In an important contribution to Partition Literature scholarship, Sneh Lata Sharma explores Gulzar’s presentation of personified History and its cruelly incomplete nature in the novel Two -- “the scar of the Partition that History scratches again and again and which gapes at the suffering humanity.” Francisco Fuentes Antrás examines the “nomadic consciousness” of an Afghan refugee who defies “territorial entrapment” by “constant border-crossing” in Jackie Kay’s short story “The Smuggled Person’s Tale.” Finally, Ellen Kriz’s essay on J.M. Coetzee’s In the Heart of Country analyses the way the narrator Magda’s inherited language cannot grasp the realities of the “suffering body”, suggesting that, in “its refusal to be codified,” the body “catalyses new, transgressive attempts at speaking.” Such diverse angles on the “trans” in the “transnational” invites new readings at a challenging time for our stories globally.
We are also pleased to publish two Creative-critical perspectives on transnationalism, both with an ear for sound and poetry, though in two very different contexts. Earwitnesses by Suzanne Hermanoczki records the aural landscape of Australian immigrants, while Mehmet Ali Çelikel’s essay is a case study on his own translation of Robyn Rowland’s poetry.
There is also, in this issue, a wealth of creative work to enjoy. From the vibrant experiments in style from Joseph Jude, to the lived experience of a Malaysian writer in Belfast in Shahminee Selvakannu’s memoir; from the historical fiction of Ron Singer’s Nigeria, to the reimagined Romanticism of Rachael Mead’s poetry, there are treats galore.
In our Poetry section, we continue to present a range of poems from established and emerging poets, as well as our curated and feature poet sections. We’re especially honoured to have a selection of Chinese poetry curated by award-winning poet Iris Fan Xing, and thrilled to be featuring a selection of poems from acclaimed Singaporean poet, Alvin Pang.
The volume concludes with our Book Reviews section. As ever, we are grateful to our reviewers for their thoughtful consideration of the titles under discussion. As with all the volunteers, supporters, readers and authors who make up our wonderful community - we couldn’t do this without you. Our special thanks, in that regard, go to our Editorial Team, who have all made huge contributions to this volume: Consulting Editor Gillian Dooley, Associate Editor Rita Horanyi and Section Editors Alison Flett, Ruth Starke and Piper Bell in Australia; Sabrin Hasbun in the UK; and Reza Haque in the United States, as well as members of our supportive community of scholars on the Advisory Board. Finally, thanks to Bambo Soyinka and Ian Gadd for ensuring the journal's survival.
So. You’ve waited two years for the relaunch of Transnational Literature and there’s no need to wait one moment more. Enjoy! And do tell us what you think, via our social media channels. Long may our community continue.
All best wishes,
Alice Healy-Ingram (General Editor), Adelaide, Australia
Elen Caldecott (Series Editor), Bath, UK